Before you start to panic let’s make one thing clear: guest posts are still valuable, as long as they are actually valuable. While this may sound confusing at first, it’s actually very simple. Earlier this week Matt Cutts published an article entitled ‘The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO’ where he states that he has seen an increase in websites trying to gain links through spammy guest posts.
This isn’t surprising, especially to those in the digital marketing industry, as since Google made a stand against gaining links through other means using the Penguin update, web masters have been looking for new ways to earn links.
The key word here however is ‘earn’. Google has made it increasingly clear that even though links can help improve your rankings in the SERPs, asking or paying for them will land you with a penalty. Webmasters should create content that people actually want to link to and is of use to web users. Hence the reason why there has been an influx in websites creating guest posts, but unfortunately not all guest posts are equal.
There is nothing wrong with a genuine guest post on a subject that is useful for a website’s target demographic. Unfortunately, as the old form of link building is now completely unviable people have started thinking that they’ll just write a few blogs instead and get links that way. This is what has led to what Matt Cutts calls ‘spammy’ content, and added: “Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains.
“We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking “guest post outsourcing” and writing articles about “how to automate guest blogging.”” This issue is one that constantly seems to haunt Google: as soon as they officially suggest a new way of gaining links people start abusing the system and creating something just for the link juice, and not to improve user experience.
So where should digital marketers go from here? Well they should go back and truly listen to what Google said when the Penguin update was first introduced: earn links. At Gravytrain we are always creating innovative, and more importantly useful, pieces of content for our clients with the aim that others will appreciate them and naturally want to share them on their sites. This includes infographics, animations, resource centres, and yes even guest posts, to name a few. Yes it takes longer, and it is definitely much more work, but the end result is something that is truly worth linking to and in-line with Google’s guidelines.
If you think about it, Google is trying to be the editors of the internet, removing content that is not worthwhile and hunting out those that are trying to manipulate the system and make the SERPs spammy. Having high quality and varied content is therefore essential for all digital marketing strategies, as it not only encourages links but also presents your company as one with authority and true knowledge on subjects that your users want to know more about.